This past Sunday, The Food Network aired a special “The Big Waste,” which featured chefs Alex Guarneschelli, Ann Burell, Michael Symon, and Bobby Flay. The chefs were challenged to compete against one another to create a meal for some 100+ foodies, bloggers and other food personalities using only ingredients from farms that would have otherwise been thrown out.
It was definitely an interesting watch (I believe it will be airing another few times this weekend), and perhaps the most disturbing moment was when some of the farmers brought the chefs to see their compost piles: the camera scrolled across piles and piles of beautiful-looking produce, that was considered unusable because it did not appear “perfect” by the average American consumer.
I hate wasting food, and try to do everything I can to use my leftovers in creative ways, so I loved seeing the top-notch meals the chefs put together using discarded tomatoes, chicken and ricotta cheese, among other ingredients.
If you’re looking to learn more about this topic, particularly through a Jewish perspective, you might enjoy Hazon‘s Food Guide, “Food Waste: Making Less of It, Doing More with It.”
In the meantime, here are two of my go-to recipes that I use almost weekly in order to make the most out of stale bread, and vegetable peelings. Would love to hear your favorite waste-not tips!
Shannon’s Waste-Not Croutons
- 3 Cups leftover bread, cut into cubes
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper and olive oil (also add the cheese if you’re making the croutons dairy). Toss mixture over the bread cubes, and lay out on a cookie sheet.
Bake bread cubes around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle over your favorite salad, or serve on top of your favorite soup.
4 quarts water
3 whole carrots
leftover carrot peels
2 whole celery stalks
leftover celery stalks
1 whole onion
leftover onion peels
3 whole garlic cloves
leftover garlic peels
2 whole parsnips
leftover parsnip peels
4 Tbsp salt
Other vegetables you can throw in: asparagus stalks, brussel sprout leaves, sweet potato, bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
In a large stockpot, add leftover vegetables, parsley and peppercorns. Fill the pot with three quarts of cold water, and cover pot with lid.
Bring soup up to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for one hour. Pour soup through a strainer into a large bowl, discarding vegetables and herbs, then season stock with salt.
Freeze vegetable stock in plastic containers or ice cube trays for up to 6 months.
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.